Commuting on the Green Line on Tuesday morning, Luis Ramírez got a taste of what MBTA passengers experience regularly.
He was heading to work on his first day as the T’s general manager when he noticed the fare machines weren’t working in one of the stations.
“So that really indicates to me firsthand,” he said, “what are some of the experiences that customers are actually having, and why it’s so important that we bring their experience into how we operate the business, how we set the metrics up for the business and the teams, and how we drive the changes we’ve got to make.”
The new GM talked to reporters on Tuesday afternoon at the MBTA’s operations center in the Financial District.
Ramírez is moving here from Dallas where he ran a business consultancy group. He has been staying in a Back Bay hotel. Ultimately, he will make his home in downtown Boston and plans to regularly ride public transportation to work, taking either the Red or Green line depending on his destination each day.
“You’ll see me out there quite a bit, and it’ll happen all during the days, weeks ahead of me,” he said. “I really want to get to know every site. I’m the kind of guy that really likes to walk the shop and that’s where I learn about the organization.”
Ramírez said he has already “gotten to know the city somewhat” from past business trips to the Hub.
Leading up to his first day on the job, the native of Stuart, Fla. spent around 38 hours checking on the wellbeing of family members in Florida following Hurricane Irma. His brother still lives on the state’s west coast which Irma followed on her path north.
“That event, as all of these tough events,” Ramírez said, “really give you a perspective about how important it is to plan and to work on infrastructure and deal — to be able to adapt your infrastructure to these type of events as you guys well know here in the commonwealth.”
Footage of flooded cities in Texas and Florida has other U.S. cities thinking about emergency preparations.
Asked how the MBTA is currently situated to handle a major flood, the new general manager said, “I think I heard a couple weeks ago that the MBTA had actually updated their hurricane process in response recently, and I’m going to find out more about that this week as I work. I’m actually very interested in finding out where we are with preparation for the things that are happening here in the wintertime.”
In addition to learning more about T operations, Ramírez stressed his desire to interact with passengers. He said he has been “reflecting on some of the interactions” he had with straphangers while riding different lines on Tuesday. “We took some routes and spent a lot of time meeting with people at the customer side, meeting with employees that work at these stations, and even taking the bus routes down deeper into the city.”
Ramírez previously led Global Power Equipment Group which is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to WBUR.
Asked whether questions over his former company diminish his reputation as a “turnaround” expert, Ramírez defended his record.
“Hired a great team, set up a longterm strategy for the business, grew the top line, and really brought in lean and other business model improvements to the business,” he said. “I’ve done that all over my record.”
“A lot of the work that I’ve done has been around turnarounds and that’s one of the reasons I think I was brought in for this role,” he said.